Court: Two Basque ETA terrorists suffered inhuman and degrading treatment after their arrest

Two Basque ETA terrorists convicted of bombing Madrid airport, suffered “inhuman and degrading treatment” whilst under arrest, human rights judges have confirmed.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Portu Juanenea and Sarasola Yarzabal v. Spain (application no. 1653/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, in its substantive and procedural aspects.

Under Article 41 (just satisfaction), the court held, by four votes to three, that Spain was to pay 30,000 euros (EUR) to Igor Portu Juanenea and EUR 20,000 to Martin Sarasola Yarzabal, in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

Portu Juanenea and Sarasola Yarzabal, are Spanish nationals who in May 2010, were convicted and sentenced as perpetrators of the Madrid-Barajas Airport Terminal 4 bombing on 30 December 2006.

On 6 January 2008 Mr Portu Juanenea and Mr Sarasola Yarzabal were arrested in the Basque Country by counter-terrorism officers of the Guardia Civil. According to the applicants, during the journey they were kicked and punched as they were being taken in the respective vehicles to the Intxaurrondo police station, and on the bank of a river where the vehicles stopped on the way.

Allegedly they were also beaten by the agents of the intelligence group which took charge of them later.

On 7 January 2008 the applicants were examined by two doctors from the Basque Forensic Institute, who immediately admitted Portu Juanenea to the intensive care unit. He left hospital on 11 January.

Sarasola Yarzabal was taken by car to Madrid where he was held incommunicado until 11 January 2008. During his transfer and detention, he was allegedly subjected to threats and beatings. Various medical reports noted numerous visible injuries on several parts of the applicants’ bodies. Portu Juanenea received treatment for 27 days, including five in the hospital.

During the 22 days he was not hospitalised he was unable to perform his daily routine.  Sarasola Yarzabal needed 14 days to recover.


Earlier today, the European Court of Human Rights found in particular that the injuries described in the certificates presented by Portu  Juanenea and Mr Sarasola Yarzabal had been caused while they were in the hands of the Guardia Civil. It took the view that neither the national authorities nor the Government had provided any convincing or credible arguments to explain or justify those injuries, which it also found to constitute inhuman or degrading treatment.

The court then observed that the Supreme Court had confined itself to dismissing the applicants’

version without considering whether the use of physical force by the officers during their arrest had

been strictly necessary and proportionate, or whether the most serious injuries subsequently

sustained by Portu Juanenea were attributable to the officers responsible for his detention and

supervision. Those omissions had prevented the domestic court from establishing the facts and all

the circumstances as fully as it should have done.

Comments are closed.